For the people of Estes Park, today’s election is stark reminder of how quickly life can change when events outpace plans, necessity pushes aside dreams, and shelter-in-place is the new norm.
Due to Covid-19, the January launch of my mayoral campaign feels so distant. The issues that mattered so much then, are now on hold. Replaced by health and safety concerns, economic challenges, and heightened focus on critical services.
Our once bustling town is quiet. Businesses are closed. Motels and lodges vacant. School suspended. Jobs lost. Parking spaces, once scarce, are now abundant. Restaurants where we gathered around tables, have become carryout sites. Safeway, where we mixed and mingled with friends while filling carts with groceries, is a get-in get-out exercise in social distancing (and toilet paper lust).
Although we are in uncharted territory, with lives on hold now is no time for us to despair. Rather we must step up. Move forward together. Do what we do well. We’re an industrious lot. A creative community with a long and proven record of standing together in the face of adversity, be it fire, flood... or virus.
In the spirit of togetherness, as your newly elected mayor, I thank you the people of Estes for your confidence in me. I take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to Charley Dickey for meeting the challenge of running for office with decorum, sincerity and enthusiasm. As evidenced at the League of Women Voters forum in mid- March, Charley and I agree about many issues, and a few, well those we’ll continue to discuss.
My thanks each candidate for trustee—Barbara MacAlpine, Patrick Martchink, Ward Nelson, Scott Webermeier, and Cindy Younglund. You ran substance- oriented campaigns that afforded the people of Estes choices, for that you should proudly hold you head high in victory or defeat.
Now that the election is over, I ask that each candidate and every person who lives in Estes set aside your differences, forgive the slights and indignities you may have experienced, embrace civility in order to move forward together. Further, I ask that we let go of whatever negative feelings might linger from previous elections. Focus your energy and enthusiasm for politics on the challenges—health, safety, jobs, critical services, residential needs, and more—now facing Estes. Join the Trustees and me at the Town Hall. Make your needs known. Offer up your help. Present ideas how Estes can come out the crisis we now face stronger and more vital than before.
Tomorrow morning, I will meet with Town Administrator, Travis Machalek to more fully understand the policies and goals for managing the Covid-19 challenge to Estes that the current Town trustees and staff have put in place. So that on Tuesday, April 28, when I’m sworn in as Mayor, I will be ready to do your business.
Further, at the time my candidacy for mayor was announced, I issued a 7-point pledge. One item concerns the ethical practices of the elected officials of the Town. As pledged, I will ask staff to schedule a video conference meeting with CML, the attorney for Estes, trustees, and me regarding the ethics policies contained in the Town Board Policy manual—including disclosure of possible conflicts of interest and recusal—during week one of our respective terms in office.
I pledged to host a series of events for young families about the challenges and quality of life issues they face living in Estes, during the first 90 days of my term. In light of the Covid-19 restrictions for group meetings and social distancing, the series will be delayed, not forgotten, and rescheduled.
To no one’s surprise, due to Covid-19 and reduced sales tax revenues to the Town, at an appropriate time the Town trustees, staff, and I will commence reviewing the strategic plan and budget of the Town. If it’s necessary for either to be revised within the next few months, decisions will be made using the best available data about trends, CDC recommendations, Governor Polis’ report outs, and input from Estes Park Health, our government town partners, such as EDC and Chamber of Commerce, and you.
There is much for us to do. I’m eager to get after it and hope you are too. Rather than spend time now celebrating election results, how about we agree to celebrate when Estes Park has beaten the virus and is on the upswing?
In the meantime, know that I am here for you and am ready to move forward together with civility, kindness and patience.
Sincerely, Wendy Koenig Mayor-Elect